Master of Science (MS)


Engineering Science (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



In this research, we focus on the early prediction of whether topics are likely to generate significant controversy (in the form of social media such as comments, blogs, etc.). Controversy trend detection is important to companies, governments, national security agencies, and marketing groups because it can be used to identify which issues the public is having problems with and develop strategies to remedy them. For example, companies can monitor their press release to find out how the public is reacting and to decide if any additional public relations action is required, social media moderators can moderate discussions if the discussions start becoming abusive and getting out of control, and governmental agencies can monitor their public policies and make adjustments to the policies to address any public concerns. An algorithm was developed to predict controversy trends by taking into account sentiment expressed in comments, burstiness of comments, and controversy score. To train and test the algorithm, an annotated corpus was developed consisting of 728 news articles and over 500,000 comments on these articles made by viewers from This study achieved an average F-score of 71.3% across all time spans in detection of controversial versus non-controversial topics. The results suggest that it is possible for early prediction of controversy trends leveraging social media.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Knapp, Gerald